TWD Boss Reveals The Ones Who Live Was ‘Very Different’ From Original Film Trilogy — Plus, the Latest Word on Season 2

The following contains spoilers from the finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live wrapped its six-episode run on Sunday, by having Rick and Michonne — played by Andrew Lincoln and Dania Gurira, who co-created the offshoot with Walking Dead chief content officer Scott M. Gimple — (barely) succeed in their plan to find and destroy the dossier on Alexandria that Jadis had hidden, and then vanquish not just Major Beale, but blow up the Civic Republic of Philadelphia’s entire military.

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A sweet coda then gave added closure, as Rick and Michonne returned home to reunite with daughter Judith and finally introduce RJ to his brave dad. (Read our finale Q&A with Dania Gurira.)

The Ones Who Live finale came nearly five-and-a-half years after it was announced that Lincoln would headline a full trilogy of Rick-centric movies that would “expand” the Walking Dead universe and “show a whole different corner of the world.” But in July 2022, it was revealed at the San Diego Comic-Con that said film series would instead take the form of the limited series that premiered on AMC in February.

What would Rick’s resumed adventures have looked like in the originally envisioned movies, versus the six-episode series we got? “Very, very different,” Gimple tells TVLine. “It was a very, very different thing that actually was going through a lot of iterations unto itself.

“When we started [developing] the films, Danai was still on [The Walking Dead],” Gimple explains, “so she was not in that first movie, and thus it was just enormously different.”

Rick and Michonne still would have reunited — “in the second film, because I knew [Danai] would be available by then, and I knew she was unbelievably critical,” Gimple says. “But that made for a very different movie, even though Rick’s circumstances were very much the same, and the relationship with CRM and the city was very much the same.”

Everything worked out for the best, clearly, especially since The Ones Who Live enjoyed the direct input of franchise vets Lincoln and Gurira as co-creators and executive producers.

“I was nervous about going that way, in some ways,” Gimple shares in retrospect. “You don’t know how it’s going to be, But even in talking to Andrew about the movies, there was a comfortable vibe. And then when it was the three of us, on that first day, man, we really started cooking really quickly. I spread all these ingredients on the table for them from the past five years and we started cooking together.

“We were on the same page but also challenging each other, and we’d make each other laugh constantly,” the franchise overlord continues. “This was one of those things where even if it was some wipeout, it was such a good time. And we knew we were approaching it with integrity.”

Episode 4 (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)
Episode 4 (Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC)

Gurira in fact wrote for The Ones Who Live — the fourth episode, in which Rick and Michonne debate “playing dead” after taking a leap of faith from a CRM helicopter that ended up crashing. Gurira has referred to Michonne and Rick’s time in that abandoned luxury apartment as a “bottle episode,” and Gimple agrees.

“When Andy and Danai and I were breaking [The Ones Who Lives‘] story, I was saying, ‘OK, here’s the deal, this is how you make Walking Dead…,” he recalls. Because “Walking Dead is not Game of Thrones, it’s not The Last of Us; it’s at a different budget level, it just is.” As such, you need a low-cost, “bottle” episode to keep things in check.

“I said to them that on The Walking Dead, ‘You have a couple [episodes] where you do huge things, you have one where you do medium things, you have one that’s a ‘bottle’ episode….'” And the upside of the latter scenario is “a couple people in a place can be very, very, very special,” Gimple says.

Making it extra-special was having Gurira pen the actual script. “I was like, ‘I would love to write this one, but it has to be Danai,'” Gimple recalls. “I was so glad that I let that go, because she did a wonderful job.”

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Gimple goes on to also hail writers Matt Negrete, Channing Powell, Gabriel Llanas and Nana Nkweti for doing “an amazing job, working with me and Andy and Danai” on the six-episode series. “As writers in a writers room working with the stars of the show, that can be kind of intimidating, but they were wonderful.”

Might there be more “wonderful” times ahead for Gimple, Lincoln, Gurira et al? After all, Rick and Michonne returned home to Alexandria and their rugrats, but a full-on reunion involving Daryl, Carol and others from the OG TWD gang awaits.

Gimple has to chuckle when asked about the prospects for any Season 2, then sticks pretty close to the answer he gave in February at the TCA winter press tour.

“It was a wild ride to make The Ones Who Live,” he notes. “It was like six years of a lot of hoping and pivoting and working.” And when all was said and done, “It didn’t eventuate the way I thought it would; it eventuated so much better.”

So when it comes to telling more of the #Richonne story…. “That’s possible,” he says.

Want scoop on any Walking Dead show ? Email, and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line!

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